Overwhelmed By God in a God-Absent Place

Last Sunday we talked about Ezekiel 1. You saw my most terrible rendition of the passage on a white board. In case you missed it – here’s what you missed.

Yes it was that bad…

The point though was that this is a difficult passage to picture, it’s a difficult passage to understand, it’s overwhelming and even a bit odd. So what we wanted to discover was what does this passage mean for us?

I asked each of you to think of one place where you assume God isn’t in your life. The reality is that we each have these places where our experience tells us God just isn’t there, or that active. That in this relationship, that workplace, that family, that street, that place God doesn’t seem to be there.

But as we discovered Ezekiel was in a place where God was supposed to be absent and gone. He was in a far away land, in a different god’s land, his temple was gone, his connection with God was strained and he felt alone.

But what is so amazing is what God does.

He shows up and overwhelms Ezekiel with his presence and a vision. That even though Ezekiel was sure he was in a place God wasn’t, God shows up. Amidst all the amazing details of the vision, one incredibly important one stands out. Ezekiel had a vision from God, a connection with God, in Babylon, a place God wasn’t supposed to be.

So what we can learn is that even those places in our lives where we feel or think God is absent or isn’t active – that he can show up and surprise us. There is no place in our lives thatis absent from the presence or activity of God. And on Sunday we prayed that in those places where we feel alone, that this week God would surprise us, overwhelm us, and connect with us just like he did for Ezekiel.

So as you go off to school and you feel God isn’t there, as you enter that workplace that seems so dark, as you meet with that friend where it seems God is no where near…may you discover him today just as Ezekiel did in a surprising, life changing and deep way.

Because this vision is a reminder to us that when we feel far from God, and alone, that today could be the day he shows up, surprises us, and changes our lives…

Group Discussion Questions:

– What places in your life does God feel most absent? Where do you wish he would most show up? What do you think Ezekiel felt after that encounter with God? Do you trust that God can show up even in dark places? Who can you have commit to continue to pray for you that God surprises and shows up for you?

Discussion Questions for Young Families

– Spend time with your kids asking them – is there anywhere God can’t be? Ask them how they know God is with them? Then spend time sharing with them that God is always with them, and that they know that from the Bible and God’s promises (i.e. Hebrews 13:5)

Difficult Passages and Deep Meanings: Ezekiel 1

This Sunday we are going to be exploring an overwhelming if not downright difficult vision. We are going to be looking at Ezekiel 1 and the vision that God gives to Ezekiel there. Why not take a moment right now if you can and take a look at the vision.

It is complex, startling, and seems very otherworldly. Ezekiel paints a difficult to see picture of wheels within wheels, beings that had a human shape with four faces and lots of fire.

The question I really want to pursue on Sunday is what does this vision mean? What do we do when we come up to something like this in the Bible that isn’t just difficult to picture but difficult to understand? And also what do we do with some visions like this that happened so long ago? How do they relate to a world with blogs, iPhones, and Pinterest?

Well, as we’ll discover this vision has just about everything to do with our everyday lives. This vision has so much to tell us about how our relationships work, how our hope works, and most of all, where God is in the darkness. So come Sunday we’re going to unpack this difficult vision. I’m going to attempt to also draw and illustrate what’s going on in it.

But here is a little cryptic teaser about how to discover the meaning and message of this vision beforehand.

           The message isn’t in the vision; the vision is the message.

I’ll unpack that statement on Sunday, but for today read the vision, try to picture it, wrestle with it, and come ready to discover on Sunday…and also be ready for some really poor drawing…